New Mexico Urban Homesteader

Hello, I am A 50 Something, Prepper ;-}; former 60's Flower Child, don't believe in taxpayer subsidized special interest groups (political parties), DO believe in the Constitution and Bill of Rights (1st 10). Long time Independent & Informed Voter. Lover of the outdoors and firm believer that History Teaches - if only we will listen!

(No longer Urban or in NM. Now Rural in the mountains of Maine.)

This blog was started at the request of some dear friends that wish to become Preppers.

“No man who is not willing to help himself has any right to apply to his friends, or to the gods.”

Demosthenes (384–322 BC, Greek statesman and orator of ancient Athens)

Sunday, January 24, 2010

Frugality - A Homesteading Preppers Way - Part 3

Frugality - Continued

• Get shower heads that are not only low water use and aerate the water but have a turn off valve on the head so when you wash your hair or body you turn the water off while soaping. This way the temperature is set when you switch it back on to rinse. Less water use, less of a water bill at the end of the month. Even if you have a well or capture runoff water for showers, this will save on the water used so in dry times you are way ahead of the rest of the people around you.

• Take advantage of runoff or rain water by capturing it and using it in your garden or for showers or baths, dish and clothes washers. I have talked to many people who avoid doing this saying the containers are ugly or too expensive for the underground type or they don’t want to be considered a “greenie”. Phooey! These save money on your water bill and are so easy to make that my neighbors 10 year old son made me one and decorated it. Looks like a fancy planter with no plants.

• For more beauty or style from your gutter drains, make a rain chain. We don’t get much rain where I am here in New Mexico, but I purchased a rain chain that some middle school kids made out of empty spice tins one summer. It not only looks great and is a conversation piece, but it works like a charm too.

• Utilize Smart Switches and Power Strips to turn off appliances and electrical devices that are not in use. Remember that most of today's TV's, PC's, DVD/CD/DVR/VHS players, microwaves and coffee pots are pulling electricity even when not in use. Anything that has an 'instant on' feature or built in clock is always pulling electricity. I had to order a coffee pot that had a timer instead of a clock from a French company, as I couldn’t find one here in the states. All I wanted to do was plug the thing in and set the timer to start 8 hours later so the coffee was ready when I woke up. I didn’t need another clock in the kitchen as I already had the clock on the microwave, the clock on the stove and a battery wall clock.

• Study your lighting. Most times you can stay with a lower wattage bulb if you have the proper reflector for it. Think of a lighthouse. It is a very small bulb in lighthouses. The penetrating light comes from the reflector and lens which magnify the intensity of the light, not the actual wattage of the light bulb. I found I saved about $1.00 the first month on my electric bill and that was without switching to a CFL bulb!

• Switch to low energy use bulbs. Compact fluorescents (CFL) and LED. There are two ways to look at this LED expense: Most lighting fixtures take screw in bulbs. When you purchase LED bulbs that fit these kinds of pre-existing fixtures they cost a lot per bulb even if they do last twice as long as the CFL bulb. So your expense is on the back side each time you purchase a replacement bulb. Or you can purchase a fixture that is made for LED bulbs, the standard cheap kind that snap in (kinda like Christmas twinkle lights). This fixture will cost you more up front but you can usually recoup the cost after 4 or 5 light bulb replacements. Plus, more LED bulbs are dimmable than CFL’s. I made this switch to save money on my electric bill. In the last year I have saved around $100 on my electric bill.

• Use wind up “Big Ben” or battery alarm clocks instead of the electric type. How often do you use the radio option on the clock to wake you up or listen to music? Clock/Radios are one of those items that are always pulling electricity even when you are not using the radio part of it.

• Turn lights off when not in a room. You can get expensive and “techie” by getting the kind of wall switch that has motion detector/timer that will automatically turn off after someone leaves the room. I have no idea how cost effective these are as with just me now, it is far cheaper to just turn the light off myself when I exit a room for any length of time.

• Make the most use of natural lighting and reflecting that lighting around a room. Light colors, sheer and privacy/thermal drapes that you open or close as needed for light or to retain/reflect heat. I have single pane windows from the 60’s when my house was built. I had estimates done to replace the windows to the new thermal kind - $9,000-15,000 for all 11 windows and a sliding door!!! I purchased thermal backed curtains and double rods for each of these windows. The thermal cost about $200.00 and were placed closest to the window itself, my existing more decorative curtains were on the outer rod. The first month I saved almost $25.00 on my AC bill and the first winter I saved even more. You just have to remember to open and close the thermal curtains as needed.

• If your thermostat is near the door see if you can move or cover it. This reduces the number of times it will get a blast of hot or cold air which triggers it to start your furnace or AC unit when people enter or leave via that door. If you have enough space by your door make a screen out of old windows or doors and place in front of your thermostat or doorway which will form a “movable foyer” and divert these open door air bursts from the thermostat. Or just hang the decorative screen or old window or door on the wall in front of the thermostat with a small 2-3 inch spacer.

• Insulate and seal windows and doors. This can be accomplished with a little putty, thermal drapes/shades or weather stripping. If you need to replace an exterior door, get an insulated or solid core one. Instead of replacing windows or using thermal curtains, get storm windows. There is a new type that is applied inside instead of outside, these seal the existing window and can even add the look and feel of window molding. Much cheaper than window replacement but not as cheap as thermal curtains.

• Energy Star appliances. That old frig may be doing a good job but it is costing you each month in electrical costs and maybe even spoiled food. If you must hang onto an older frig or freezer, replace the door molding to increase the insulating properties. Refrigerator/Freezers no matter what age cost less to run if the freezer section is on the bottom and not the top. Chest freezers or bottom freezer drawers on refrigerators are cheaper to power than upright models. Remember cold air sinks, so use that to your money saving advantage.

• Organize the frig and freezer so the most frequently used items are closest to the front and door. Remember cold air sinks and that means any refrigerator or freezer that is upright will lose at least 70% of its coldness when the door is opened for a minute or more. This means the compressor will come on costing you more money on your electric bill.

• Microwave/Convection ovens are more cost effective than a toaster oven or large range oven if backing/heating a small item. If you are alone, like me, a small toaster oven is a good alternative, however unless you spend the money up front to get one that actually tightly seals the oven section when in use, the savings will be very, very small. I ordered an Avanti one for $79.00 (including shipping) and have not regretted it in the last 3 years. The oven section to this particular item was also a convention oven when the temperature was set above 300 degrees.

• Rechargeable batteries. New laws and government regulations now require special disposal of used batteries from AAA to vehicle, boat and RV batteries. Save even more money and get a solar recharger that you can place on a porch or sunny windowsill.

• Take advantage of solar power, from solar outdoor lights, to panels, and other passive solar techniques. Like having light reflective shades/drapes for summer and dark absorbing shades/drapes for winter. Solar powered outdoor lights (dusk to dawn or motion detection). Use indoor light sensing type hall and bath night lights. In most cases (but not all) these will go off during the day when there is plenty of natural light.

• Programmable thermostats coupled with getting used to less drastic interior temperatures. Cooler in winter (68), warmer in summer (75).

• Cold water washing and rinse of clothes. Line dry instead of using the dryer. Then get one of those dryer lint vents that filter and can return the heat back into your house or direct outside in the summer. But why anyone would use a dryer in the summer is beyond me.

• Use the shortest and most efficient cycle in dishwashers. Or consider this - I had to replace my dishwasher recently and got two drawer dishwashers. One drawer is smaller than the other. I use this one most often as it is just me in the house now. But when I have guests I use both. Less water, less detergent, less energy, lower bills and the detergent lasts twice as long.

• If you have an old fashioned fireplace, get the most of its heat by getting a passive “heatalator” wood grate. These have tubes that curve up and over the top of the grate to passively funnel the heat back towards the opening of your fireplace instead of up the chimney. The one I have cost under $45.00.

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